Two Guns was originally known as Canon Diablo, or Devils Canyon, and has a history that reaches back as far as 1050AD. Early Native Americans inhabited this land and had lived there for quite some time. A bit later, this ground became soaked in blood as the Navajo and Apaches fought many a battle here, even continuing into the days of European explorers. Nearby is the Apache Death Cave, earning this moniker after Apaches were cornered at the cave and massacred. Sometime between 1540-42, Spanish explorer Captain Don Garcia de Cardenas came through this area and may be the one who named it Canon Diablo. But there is also a thought that Lt. Whipple may have named it in 1853 during his railroad expedition, as he had really tough time getting through. In the late 1800’s the building of the railroad tracks came to a stop when they realized that the bridge they ordered was too short, and it took 10 more years before it was fixed. There is also an old treasure legend associated with the Two Guns area. In 1878 a wagon train was transporting some 96 bars of silver to Santa Fe NM, when they were attacked by Indians. Supposedly the night before the attack, the party buried the wagon near their campsite. The next day all but two people were killed, and the story comes from one of the survivors, the attack happened in Chavez Pass.
In 1925 Harry E. (Indian) Miller and his wife leased land from an earlier settler, and began what we now know as Two Guns. Miller was a US veteran and supposedly, he was Apache and Mohawk Indian, or at least that’s how he billed himself. He wore his hair in braids and called himself Chief Crazy Thunder, always the showman. Along with his wife, they began an adventurous building campaign, most of the old stone structures that are seen today are attributed to him. The first constructed building was the front of his lion farm, which was a store and small home, behind this building is where he kept several lions, in cages. The next thing he tackled was the Apache Death Cave, he cleaned out the first two caverns, selling the skulls he found to tourists. The horse and other bones were sold to a local dealer in Winslow.
From most of what I read, Miller may have had issues, starting with disagreements with the people he leased the land. During one of the arguments, Miller shot and killed his landlord, but was later acquitted of all charges. There were domestic issues with his wife, all his roadside advertizing was torn down and even the animals attacked him. The zoo had nearly every wildlife native to Arizona, mountain lions, lynx, antelope, American Eagle, javeline, chuckwallas, snakes, and birds. Miller was attacked and nearly died on two occasions, a mountain lion nearly clawed him to death, a lynx nearly disemboweled him. A chuckwalla bit him so bad that it took nearly six months for the wound to heal, then there was a court case that seemed to be the last straw. Miller left Two Guns and in 1931 he started a similar attraction just over the state line in New Mexico called the Cave of the Seven Devils, and in February of 1952 he passed away.
Two Guns was leased by a variety of people for about the next thirty years, around 1960 the area was purchased by Two Guns Inc with Benjamin F. Dreher as the general manager. Under his instruction, the buildings were rebuilt, paths were laid out, and a new coffee shop, new service station, with garage, new motel, gift shop and a lounge were built. Interesting to note, that while he was laying out a new parking area, he uncovered multiple burials on the property. In 2011 Russell Crowe purchased the property in hopes of using it for the remaking the film Westworld. The Apache Death Cave was also deeply explored, a couple of explorers from Winslow were able to get about seven and a half miles deep. But later, amateur spelunkers were able to get about a total of nine miles deep.
Today Two Guns is still accessible, there is a wire fence surrounding the property but it appears to have been knocked down years ago. Most of Millers building are still there and it is a great place to photograph and explore. The Death cave is also there, but we highly recommend that you don’t explore it, it can be an extremely dangerous place, enter at your own risk.
Two guns is located on the south side of the I-40 at exit #230, between Flagstaff and Winslow Arizona. For more information about the history of the area and in particular two Guns, click here
More pictures of Two Guns are located below the video….